Friday, January 25, 2013

A Dynamic Duo

This blog is just a small effort to communicate the important role that Marv and Marianne have contributed to RBG for 23 years (and beyond).  Marv and Marianne are retiring from their grounds positions at the gardens but certainly not from the gardens as volunteers.  We wish them well in their retirement although neither is the type to not keep busy and we're sure we'll see them continue to volunteer at RBG as their busy schedules allow.  This well-deserved break comes after so many years of dedicated service to the institution of RBG.  It goes with out saying that they are irreplaceable but few know that they have been at the gardens since the beginning.  As they have "lived and breathed" with the gardens, so the gardens have benefited from all their time and dedication.

When I started at the gardens back in 1998, Marianne was running the RBG gift shop and did a great job of keeping the gift shop stocked, clean, organized, staffed and profitable.  She has a knack for retail which benefited the gardens in many other ways.  She has been instrumental in helping coordinate over 26 plants sales, additional tree sales and other fund raising events.  Her attention to detail is second to none and I certainly have always had peace of mind with any event in which she is involved.  Out in the gardens, Marianne was a top notch gardener that while willing to do anything and shift anywhere, spent major time in the entrance garden, particularly right in front of the Parker Education Center.  Marianne also prepared and staged our cutting display for the past 9 years.  Some of the photos here show a smattering of many of her "unsung" accomplishments.  Above, Marianne is out in the big iris collection (2009) that she helped plant, label and organize for the American Iris Society convention visit a couple years ago.  She kept track of 600 irises from their planting, labeling, handout development, digging and ultimately their sale!  Marianne has also maintained a binder with clippings, press releases, articles, photos, etc. of the gardens for the past seven years.  These binders have great value now and certainly for posterity.  Below, Marianne is going thru old slides and ultimately photos that we ended up scanning for historical reference. This was a huge project and thankfully she mercifully prodded me along the way.  Marianne also helped prepare labels for our annuals every winter, created plant signs for many ferns and alpine plants, tidied up the Horticulture Center countless times and trained many volunteers at plant sales (see her in orange below) and out in the gardens.  She was also vital to the preparations and installation of the Holiday Lights Show with hundreds of hours of attention.  There are so many other tasks that she accomplished and her work ethic was nothing short of extraordinary.  We'll miss her in her RBG STAFF t-shirt but look forward to her continued efforts as a volunteer.  RBG has benefited greatly from her efforts and few have been so committed to this organization.

When I started at the gardens, Marv was maintaining a garden space with Marianne (as mentioned above) and was a very active Grumpy from the early years.  I was immediately impressed with Marv's work ethic and his work pace.  What I mean by that is that he gives 100% from the time he arrives at work until the time he leaves.  He doesn't slow down (regardless of the weather) and I never stopped being amazed by how much work he could get done in a day.  He frequently outworked volunteers half his age and I don't recall every having to check on the quality of his work as it was always superior.  He is a very accomplished and talented gardener (at home too) and never shies away from a dirty task at the gardens.  Marv is an expert at shearing and was responsible (with Terry) for shearing hundreds of our boxwoods (and other hedges) twice every year.  He has a natural talent for this task and the patience to do a perfect job.  Marv was also very good at determining with the best way to address a challenge or problem and had no shortage of good ideas.  His observation skills are also top notch and he has always been my extra set of eyes out in the gardens.  Marv is multi-dimensional (as seen below) and would shift from planting to re-laying brick, installing edging, shearing, etc.  He was also quite experienced with setting up sprinklers which is truly an art form when you consider adequate volume and coverage over large areas.  He's probably unrolled and rolled hundreds of miles of hoses over the years!  Marv also took various projects under his wing like installing art projects out in the gardens, installing edging, smoothing out gravel paths, etc.  He also started our large scale compost pile and took on the responsibility of turning the pile and sifting it to the final, usable product.  This compost pile has saved us thousands of dollars and is impressive in scale.  Marv was also very involved with the Holiday Lights Show and he and Terry collectively would prepare the largest percentage of the show.  Marv and Terry (four photos down) have been a great duo out in the gardens for over seven years and their teamwork is legendary.  As with Marianne, this narrative doesn't address everything that Marv has done for the gardens.  His contributions have been numerous but so important to the development of RBG.

Because of gaudy displays of public affection (see below), Marv and Marianne were frequently separated and didn't work together often.  However, better supporters, advocates, promoters and volunteers of RBG can't be found.  We have great staff and volunteers at RBG but these two are rare in their consistent history with the gardens as both volunteers and staff.  We hope they enjoy more time to relax, travel, spend time with family and decompress.  However, I speak for everyone when I say I hope they come "full circle" and we see them often in the coming months and years!  A big Thank You from everyone at RBG and a well deserved and earned kudos to this dynamic duo!!!

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